Amber Neben took her third consecutive national title in the women’s individual time trial, besting Chloe Dygert Owen in the race against the clock on Thursday afternoon in Knoxville, Tennessee. The victory is Neben’s fourth career national title in the individual time trial, and her sixth professional national championship.
Neben (Mettler Pro Cycling) also won the individual time trial title in 2012 and the road race titles in 2003 and 2017.
“I coach a little 15-year old and she just got second at her junior nationals in both races and I told her, I got second like eight times before I won,” Neben said. “This race is really hard to win. I don’t take it for granted.”
The professional women completed two laps of the 11.5km time trial course, and Neben jumped out to an early lead in the race, completing the lap 23 seconds ahead of the nearest rider. Behind, a two-woman race for second place brewed between Dygert Owen (Sho-Air Twenty20) and Leah Thomas (Bigla Pro Cycling).
On the final lap Dygert Owen eked out a six second advantage on Thomas to finish second place and claim the national title in the women’s under-23 category.
Neben has confirmed that her ambitions are to qualify for the U.S. team for the 2020 Olympics in Tokyo. Neben won the UCI world championship in the discipline in 2016 and 2008.
A devout Christian, Neben said she went through “moments of faith” in the lead up to the race because she did not know whether or not she would have the legs to win.
“[God] put this in me and I’m just trying to steward it the best I can,” Neben said. “I enjoy all of it, I enjoy the process more than anything. I think the victories are so easily forgotten, but it’s the process that lasts.”
Garrison upends the favorites
Ian Garrison (Hagens Berman Axeon) won the men’s professional individual time trial title, just one week after claiming the national title in the Under-23 category. Garrison became the first man since Taylor Phinney to win both the U23 and professional titles in the same calendar year.
The men completed three laps of the 11.5km course for 34.5km of total racing.
“Last week was about 30 kilometers, not too much shorter than this,” Garrison said. “I would say this week is just different because last week you could just put your head down and go, and really not think of anything. And this week there was a little bit more with the u-turn, the hill and everything. It was just a little bit more thrown at you.”
Garrison made a late charge to take the title after Neilson Powless jumped to an early lead during the first half of the race. Powless held a lead after the second of three laps but hemorrhaged time in the final lap to Garrison.
Powless finished second place, 28 seconds behind Garrison.
“I think Ian Garrison showed some real maturity in keeping his pace under control and just being to be able to be confident enough to say, yes, that’s all I need right now on the first lap and a half,” Powless said. “I think that’s where I went wrong, I was just too eager for it and I was too excited and it just got the better of me.”
Garrison said he has spent much of the season preparing for the time trial races, spending more time than usual training on his time trial bike. Garrison has excelled at hard one-day classics and flat races, and the time trial victories add another component to his quiver of skills.
“In the past month, it’s just been dialing in the training, longer hours, thinking how this was going to be a long effort,” Garrison said. “In terms of last week, it was just riding the course as much as I could and mentally preparing to what that effort would feel like.”
USA Cycling Professional Individual Time Trial Championships
- Ian Garrison, Hagens Berman Axeon, 42:58.76
- Neilson Powless, Jumbo-Visma, at 0:19
- George Simpson, Elevate-KHS, at 0:50
- Larry Warbasse, AG2R-La Mondiale, at 1:05
- William Cooper, CS Velo Racing, at 1:28
- Amber Neben, Mettler, 30:19.87
- Chloe Dygert Owen, Sho-Ar Twenty20, at 0:36
- Leah Thomas, Bigla, at 0:42
- Tayler Wiles, Trek-Segafredo, at 1:02
- Ruth Winder, Trek-Segafredo, at 2:04